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Behind the Scenes at Madame Tussauds NYC

Step Behind the Ropes to Interact with Wax Figures at this Iconic New York City Landmark

Where in the world can you find Gandhi, Albert Einstein, and Marylin Monroe under the same roof? Only at Madame Tussauds, located in the heart of New York City. This iconic wax museum combines art, history, and popular culture into one truly immersive experience that continues to captivate visitors with its stunningly lifelike wax figures.

Madame Tussauds first opened its doors in London in 1835 to showcase the work of Marie Tussaud, a French artist who began her career sculpting wax death masks of victims of the French Revolution. Much has changed since those early days, although the museum remains entrenched in Tussaud's legacy of astonishing craftsmanship. The New York City location opened in 2000 and houses figures ranging from world leaders to pop culture icons.

“Madame Tussauds has a mix of figures from the past to the present. Everything from musicians to movie stars to sports icons to world leaders, politicians, and superheroes,” says Marketing Coordinator Andrew Albigese. “As the world of entertainment evolves, so will Madame Tussauds with recent and soon-to-be exhibits that are more than just wax figures, but fully immersive experiences that put the guest at the center of it all.”

The New York location shares much with its counterparts in London, Las Vegas, and elsewhere, but also offers visitors an authentically local experience. “There are elements in the New York location that cannot be found anywhere else,” says Albigese. “One experience, in particular, is the all-new Ghostbusters Experience and Ghostbusters: Dimension Hyper-Reality experience. Since the Ghostbusters story is iconic to New York City, it is a perfect fit for the New York attraction.”  

Not just anyone gets to be made into a wax figure. “We keep our fingers on the pulse of contemporary culture and select new figures based on their cultural relevancy,” Albigese explains. “Many people from different areas of the company have a say in who will be selected next. We also take the recommendations of fans and guests into consideration when selecting.”

Once a subject is selected, Madame Tussauds embarks on the complicated process of bringing the figure to life. “The figures are made by a team of up to twenty artists over the course of three to four months,” Albigese explains. “The face is made with a mixture of beeswax and Japan wax while the bodies are made of fiberglass. The figure’s face and hands are painted with oil paints to give the figures a lifelike quality.”

The impressive accuracy of the wax figures has certainly caused more than one visitor to look twice, a fact only compounded when the subject is alive and well. “Many of the real-life counterparts are involved in the creation of their figure,” says Albigese. “If the celebrity is available, they sit with Madame Tussauds’ studio artists where over 250 measurements are taken. Oftentimes, the celebrities will attend the unveiling of their figure as well.”

Unlike many museums, Madame Tussauds encourages guests to take pictures and shake hands with their favorite icons. “At Madame Tussauds, there are no ropes or barriers around our figures,” Albigese says. “Guests can get next to and even touch all of the figures. In fact, Madame Tussauds New York has its very own Studios Team that walks the attraction each and every morning touching up the figures to ensure that they’re camera-ready.”

Madame Tussauds is a must-see for visitors to New York City. “Madame Tussauds is a truly unique experience in a city with so many things to do,” says Albigese. “We provide visitors of New York the opportunity to stand side-by-side with some of the world’s greatest icons in one of the world’s greatest cities.”

By Ettractions Digital Content Editors ALLISON BENNETT and EMILY JARMOLOWICZ

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